The best time of the year is underway. And no, this has nothing to do with red cups. Since these last few weeks of 2015 are virtually jam-packed with releases, it is time for my usual attempt at forming coherent thoughtful reflections out of the emotional gibberish in my head following a packed month of theater-going.
This year, I want to try something different and rank the movies each month in a certain hierarchy. And since basically any moment not spent at the movies lately has been spent watching soccer, I came up with this:
- The Golden Goal — my favorite film from the month, the must-see, the can’t-miss
- The Hat Trick — the must-sees that hit my three main movie-watching criteria: excellent performances, beautifully directed, engaging plot; critical acclaim; will feature more in awards conversation than the below
- The Bicycle Kick — the solidly entertaining mainstream efforts; possibly great success at the box office; you don’t need to be an uber pretentious film critic to enjoy these great movies
- The Yellow Card — the misses, lack something that could have made them great; still watchable if you’re curious but come with my humble word of warning
- The Red Card — avoid at all costs
I’ll give this system a trial run these next couple months — thoughts and suggestions are appreciated (no seriously if it’s total shit please tell me).
Alright so without further ado! I give you my October 2015 Movie Roundup:
The Golden Goal:
I was lucky enough to score tickets for an early free screening but this movie is worth every last penny of whatever overpriced theater you go to. This was one of my most highly anticipated movies, but I was not prepared for how completely it blew me away. Brie Larson’s performance is unlike anything I’ve seen this year so far, and the careful poignant direction of Lenny Abrahamson enriches the story beyond the pureness of Jake’s (heart-wrenchingly played by Jacob Tremblay) point of view. It’s a must-see. Don’t forget the tissues.
The Hat Tricks:
I read this book a while back in anticipation of the movie and loved it. It was such an easy fun read yet still engaging and compelling enough that I took it seriously. The movie did not disappoint. Matt Damon nails it as Mark Watney, the astronaut slash botanist that gets left behind on Mars, and the rest of the supporting cast is just as stellar (ha get it). But really everyone is pretty much at the top of their game and combined with a brilliant script by Drew Goddard and the characteristic Ridley Scott direction, this is a wonderful mainstream must-see.
Beasts of No Nation
I gushed about this endlessly in my Fall 2015 Movie Preview post because I am just so downright giddy about where this industry is going and I am just such an ardent Netflix fangirl and I just love what they’re doing and this movie is just the embodiment of everything that’s been slowly happening over the past couple years and oh man… I loved this movie. Idris Elba is brilliant as always but truly the movie belongs to the young Abraham Attah. It’s quite a strong film to be sure and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s just so good that I would still highly recommend it and I really hope it goes far.
The Bicycle Kicks
Bridge of Spies
Never count out Spielberg. Or Tom Hanks. Or the Coen bros. I was kind of unsure about this movie at first. I really should have known better. While I don’t see it featuring heavily for the big awards (although I wouldn’t be surprised if The Academy threw Spielberg or Hanks a nod just for the hell of it), I wouldn’t count it out of the other races completely. At nearly two and a half hours, it’s a pretty long one to get through and definitely drags a bit slow sometimes but overall it’s a solidly entertaining and compelling feature about an unknown yet heavily influential player at one of the most crucial moments in history. Would love to one day see some sort of sequel about the later Bay of Pigs negotiation (Mark Rylance as Castro anyone?)
I wish this could have been a Hat Trick movie, but while I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t really classify it as a “must-see.” The performances, both Michael Fassbender’s lead and supporting from Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, and Seth Rogen, were all brilliant. Aaron Sorkin’s script is sharp and quick-witted, reminiscent of The Social Network (which of course isn’t surprising at all). I still can’t quite pinpoint what fell flat for me, but I do think it’s one that shouldn’t be missed (which is what saved it from a Yellow Card classification). Sorkin and Boyle described it as a painting more than a photographic biopic, which is a fair assessment and I think it’s important to go into the movie with that in mind. But I don’t know… maybe it really is just too soon for any kind of Steve Jobs feature.
The Yellow Cards
Our Brand Is Crisis
This movie had potential to be sure and maybe under a different direction and a tighter script, it might have landed more successfully. Sandra Bullock is wonderful but the rest of the characters and the plot aren’t very fleshed out, and I just kept asking myself what point the movie was trying to make exactly… There were too many threads that weren’t explored properly and combined with thinly sketched characters, it left me a bit at odds with the message I was supposed to be taking away.
Basically suffering from the exact same problem as Our Brand Is Crisis. It just didn’t know what movie it wanted to be. I didn’t start getting into it until about halfway through, and with a subject matter as compelling as women’s suffrage it really should have the viewer invested from the start. It also suffered from not enough Meryl Streep screen time. Like I knew her role was small. But still. You can never have too much Streep.
So there we have it! I should note that Sicario also went into wide release in October but since I watched it in Cannes I didn’t include it above — if I had, it for sure would be a Hat Trick.
I also didn’t include September movies. Most were pretty skippable. Notable exception to Straight Outta Compton, which though I missed I’ve heard great things, and Black Mass, which I did see and would be worth watching for Johnny Depp alone.
On a completely separate note, I can’t stop thinking about how many movies this year are based on books and HOW HAPPY THAT MAKES ME and how I’m definitely gonna go get all the books and write a post based solely on this. The Adapted Screenplay race this year is gonna be hella tough and I am all about it. I’m also pretty ashamed at myself because I normally make it a point to read the book well in advance of the movie and have failed pretty miserably this year with all of them (with the exception of The Martian).
But anyway the bookworm in me is quite pleased. My wallet on the other hand probably hates me more and more every day but hey ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
November has a ton of great releases to look forward to — already I’ve seen Brooklyn and Spectre, and there are so many more to come.
SO stay tuned and until next time, happy watching!